The Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA program for this year presented by Alaska is now on its National Training Camp stage. The program, which started January 23 of this year, is down to its top 50 boys and top 25 girls. They came from the various Regional Selection Camps held in Bukidnon, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, Metro Manila and Puerto Princesa. Three new locations were added for this year – Batangas, Catanduanes and Cavite – increasing the total number of participants to 36,000 players and 2,700 coaches.
Under the milk giant’s Nutrition. Action. Champion program, the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA aims not only to produce our country’s future basketball stars but also to develop core values of sportsmanship, discipline, confidence, and hardwork among the participants. This will be their passport if not for an NBA experience trip together with fellow All-Stars from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, then definitely for the rigors of the sport of life.
One interesting young participant Kai Zachary Sotto, the son of former PBA player and currently playing for Byaheng SCTEX in the PCBL Chairman’s Cup, Ervin Sotto. This 13-year-old pubescent aspirant aims to be the first locally trained Filipino to enter the NBA! And why not? At his tender age, he is already towering above almost everybody at 6’9”! Currently he is playing for his high school’s varsity team at St. Francis of Assisi, Manila.
A couple years back, I had already espied Kai among the participants. Back then, he is already a giant among his peers. And he seems to be growing even taller each year! So a 7-foot ceiling is not unreachable for Kai and together with his height, he is getting better in his over-all basketball skills including ball handling, shooting, etc. each time. I also learned that starting at age 2 he is already developing his affinity with the sport and, growing up, playing with much older neighbors in Manuela, Las Pinas. In between playing basketball, watching NBA on tv and admiring Kevin Garnett among other cager idols, he prepares his teenage body for future stardom, his father reveals, by eating and sleeping a lot! (Postscript: Kai made it to this year’s Jr. NBA All-Stars Philippines.)
For more information on Kai, visit http://www.spin.ph/basketball/news/kai-elmer-sotto-ervin-sotto-pba-dreams-of-nba.
Gracing this year’s selection is no less than NBA and WNBA legends Norris Cole of New Orleans Pelicans and Taj McWilliams of the Minnesota Lynx. Norris Cole himself is an ideal model for our young basketball fanatics as he himself started playing the sport at a very tender age of three. He was not deterred by his lack of height (well, for international basketball standards that is) of 6’2” making him ideal as a point guard. This aspect many local aspirants can relate to given our genetic, though vastly improving, height limitations. What is most admirable about Norris is the fact that he likewise excelled in academics! Something that a good number of athletic students need to get inspiration from in terms of combining studies with playing basketball, that they can be passionate at both. Norris was his high school senior class Salutatorian and a member of the National Honor Society.
Since the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA program started in the country in 2007, more than 36,000 players and 2,700 coaches have benefited from it. And what is worth mentioning is the fact that as a grassroots program, those aspiring youths in the far flung provinces where most dreams of becoming a professional basketball player are cultured only to be sadly extinguished due to lack of resources, are given the opportunity to experience top caliber training program. They are also given the avenue where they can achieve their dreams of being the country’s future stars of the sport we Filipinos are so crazy about.
For general information about Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA Philippines presented by Alaska, please visit http://www.jrnba.asia/philippines, http://www.alaskamilk.com, and http://www.alaskapowercamp.com/basketball. For live updates, log on to http://www.alaskaplayph.com. You can also follow them on FB, IG and Twitter @playph #jrnba #jrwnba.